Sunday, 3 June 2012

Memories of Munich: The greatest weekend of my life!

It has been two weeks now since the most momentous night in the history of Chelsea Football Club, but it still feels unbelievable.  This is the type high that anyone connected with the club will take a long while to get down from.  Back in early March when we lost that away match at the Hawthorns, who would have thought that our season would end with a historic double and us finally being crowned CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE!

After many failures in this elite club competition, you wouldn't be blamed for thinking that Chelsea will never do it. There have been many instances when we have come so close yet have been so far.....think along the lines of the Liverpool ghost goal 2005, Moscow 2008, stoppage time Iniesta goal in 2009 etc and you begin the get the picture! But this year we have finaly done it and no one will be able to take that away from us; not Barca, not UEFA, not Platini and of course not Bayern!  This year was meant to be our year and the experience of being there and to experience Drogba's winning penalty live is something I will be able to look back on years from now and be able to say 'I was there that night in Munich when.....' 

I feel lucky to have been one of the many Chelsea supporters that were fortunate enough to have been in Munich to witness a piece of history being made - We came, We saw and We conquered! 

I am not going to talk too much about the game as I am sure you all have watched it dozens of times by now already, but I will give you all an insight into the greatest weekend of my life! My journey to Munich along with my friend that I was travelling with began on the Friday evening, the day before the match.  The route to Munich was to involve a long stop over in Milan on the Friday night, which would mean that the time me and my Friend arrived in Munich on Saturday morning, we probably would have had no sleep! However we had opted for this cheaper option rather than direct flights and we didn't care as long as we got there.

All packed and ready for the weekend ahead we set of from Heathrow on Friday evening. Once we had checked in and were waiting for our departure we settled down for our quick first pints of the weekend at the airport bar.  After a short wait in the departure lounge we boarded our 18.50 flight to Milan.  Two hour later and we were in Milan, and now we had the whole night ahead of us before we would be flying to Munich our final destination.  However, what I had only discovered a couple days earler was that we would need to change airports once we got to Milan. So not only was there a long stopover but there was an extra leg to the journey to Munich, involving a transfer from Milan Linate airport to Milan Malpensa airport. This transfer for us involved taking two different buses and eventually we got to Malpensa airport and made our way to the Departures.  We had hoped that there would have been some bars/restaurants open at the airport however when we got there the only place open was a small cafe in the far corner of the airport.  As this was our only option we headed there and got ourselves something to eat but unfortunately no beers!  Although the fridge did have some alcoholic drinks, as we went to pick them up and take them to the till we were promptly told in broken English 'Sorry no alcohol this time'. I assume because it was quite late, they were probably not allowed to sell any alcoholic drinks at that time, which was a shame as we had the whole night to get through.  At this stage the airport was virtually empty; it was just us and a few other people there!  We sat down on the seats in departures and after a while did try to get some sleep, however this was of no use. It was uncomfortable and clearly there was no way we were going to get any rest before our flight, so instead we just tried to pass our time in any way possible.

Eventually as it approached 05.30 we were able to check in and before we knew it we were on the 06.30 flight to Munich.  Once we were on the Milan-Munich we took the opportunity to at least attempt to get some rest, but and hour later we were in Munich.  It was 07.30 local time and, at last we were in Munich and although we were slightly tired we were already buzzing for the day ahead.  The first thing we did was jump in a taxi and headed straight to Marienplatz i.e the town centre of Munich.  We didn't bother going to our hotel, because a few days earlier I had spoken with the hotel we were staying at and had been informed that we would not be able to get our rooms till noon at the earliest.  Therefore we saw little point in going to our hotels straight away even if it was just to drop our bags off as our hotel was slightly on the outskirts and out of the centre of town.  We arrived in Marienplatz around 08.30ish and although it was packed at that stage there were already pockets of Bayern Munich fans walking around, singing etc and it looked like a particular group of Bayern fans had been on the booze probably since getting out of bed!  Once we were in the square we chose to go to a cafe directly opposite Marienplatz station; there were a few Chelsea (and Bayern as well) fans there and they were serving beer.  We sat outside in the sun, and for the next few hours we were there drinking beer, singing, talking to other fans and generally just getting our day started nice and early.  As time went on, more and more supporters started to arrive into the town centre and you could really begin to feel the buzz around the place.  The atmosphere was starting to build up and even Sky Sports News were on hand to sample it.  Outside the cafe we were at, a Sky Sports News reporter had decided to interview 3 of the other Chelsea supporters that were sat next to us.  Although me and my friend didn't get interviewed ourselves, we had clearly got on Sky Sports News and it was not long before I recieved a couple of texts from people back home in London along the lines of 'Dude just seen you on Sky Sports News...Come on Chelsea!'. Of course I have not seen this footage myself, but people I know have seen it.

After a few hours of drinking beer in Marienplatz square, we decided to head off to our hotel at around 11am.  We got on the train from Marienplatz to Dachau, and from there we had to take a taxi for 10km to our hotel.  The hotel we had for the Saturday night wasn't an ideal location as we would have preferred something more central, but with the limited availability of affordable hotels in Munich, we took whatever we could get. We arrived at the hotel shortly after noon, and checked in but our room was still not ready for us.  We went down to the hotel bar while we waited and took in a few more beers.  While we were at the hotel bar, we we bumped into a few other Chelsea supporters who were also staying there. We decided to join them for some beers and they told us tales from the night before in Munich, however they did not have tickets to the match like we did but they had decided to make the trip anyway like thousands of others.  They did however have tickets to the screening at the Olympic stadium and had planned to watch the match there.  This particular group of guys had been in Munich the previous day and by the looks of it they had a pretty messy one on the Friday night, while we were killing time at Milan Malpensa airport!  After a few more beers and chat with the other Chelsea lads, we could finally get the keys to our room.  After a quick shower, Chelsea shirt on, match ticket in wallet we departed the hotel with the other guys we had met earlier at the hotel bar and headed back into town at around 2pm.  By the time we got back into the centre of town, the area was all packed out with a sea of blue and red.  Chelsea and Bayern fans all over the place, although it is fair to say that we were outnumbered by Bayern, after all it was their own city!

German Beer- Loved it!

I can't remember the name of the bar we went to, but it was mixed with both sets of supporters both inside and outside.  We quickly ordered a few large German beers (Absolutely loved the German beer!) and started to take in the pints.  What followed was few hours of endless drinking and singing and just having a good time.  It was not until around 4.30/5pm when we decided to move from that bar.  We just walked a bit further down the square and went to another bar which was largely full of Chelsea. Had another beer or two here before we decided to head to the nearest train station at around quarter to 6.  Although it was still quite a while left before the match, we had figured it would be busy and that it would be a good idea to make a move early. Just as well that we left for the stadium when we did because the journey there (and on the way back as well for that matter) is one that makes TFL look amazing!  Not only were all the platforms overcrowded when we got into the station at Odenoplatz or Marienplatz (Can't remember which one), but there was no management of the crowd at all and there was a lot of pushing, lot of people trying to squeeze into already full trains etc. Although there were a lot of Bayern fans at the station, there were a group of Chelsea fans there as well. We went where the Chelsea fans were, and before I knew it here was lot of singing, bouncing etc all on the platform, while we waited to get on a train.  Eventually we did get on the train but it was as expected a very overcrowded train.  However, the unbearable train journey to the stadium, which involved us changing trains due to a lot of Bayern fans on the train heading to the Olympic stadium for the screening rather than the Allianz Arena, was made slightly better by the banter singing on the train.  We chatted to some Bayern fans on route, some of them asked to have photos with us, and at one point along the route I remember bursting out into a 'ZIGGER ZAGGER ZIGGER ZAGGER' which the other Chelsea on the train followed up with the 'OI OI OI'. Other than this, there were many other songs on the train journey and given that we had been on the German beer all day from 8.30 in the morning, you can imagine that we were in very good spirits ahead of the game.

By the time we arrived near the stadium there was about an hour and a half left to go before kick off. As we still had some time we decided to stay outside, and got some food and drink (non-alcoholic beer) from the kiosks outside and stayed there till for a while before going in about 45 minutes before kick off.  We went in, made our way to our seats in the upper tier right behind the goal.  Although we were high up, the view we had from our seats was tremendous and I have got to say the stadium is very well designed as it allows you to stand safely as well.  As kick off approached atmosphere was building up, seat were filling up and now this was it; this was the time for us to shine, and to paint the Allianz Arena blue.  After all the pre-match build up in the stadium, the match had started and now Bayern Munich were all that stood in the way from us and the famous Champions League trophy.

Me inside the Allianz Arena

The large part of the match passed without any goals until the 82nd minute when Muller scored for Bayern. The way they celebrated, it was as if they thought they had already won it, and given that there were only 8 minutes of normal time left it was hardly surprising.  I was gutted, I slumped into my seat, but after a brief moment of being disappointed I got right back up.  We still believed and us Chelsea faithful did not give up on it.  We were to be rewarded a few minutes from the end when the man for the big occasion Didier Drogba produced an equaliser.  At that point we were all joyous and relived....we were back in it!  Extra time came and passed without any further goals and to add to hope Robben had missed a penalty for Bayern in the first period of extra time.  The winner of he match was to be decided with a penalty shootout and this took our minds back to the heartache of Moscow 2008 still in the back of our minds and with it being an English side against a German side, surely the odds were against us???!!

Fast forward to the last few penalties of the shoot out. Despite Mata having missed the first penalty for Chelsea, we were back in it. Bayern had just missed another penalty and now it was left to Drogba for the final penalty kick for us that could win us the Champions League.  It had been absolutely nerve racking watching the shoot-out but with this last kick left we were actually starting to believe that we could do it!  I remember thinking to myself...'Come on can do this...just one more goal and we are done....come on', and up stepped Drogba and quite calmly hit the ball in the back of the net!  For a few minutes then my whole world stopped, it was unbelievable feeling....just pure elation.  Of course it could have all gone pear shaped a.k.a Moscow 2008, but this was our year and we have fully deserved it with the journey we have had getting here.  As we found out few days later that was to be Drogba's last kick for us, and that will certainly be remembered as one of the greatest moments at Chelsea.  We had waited so long for this, and we had finally done it, but it was almost as if was unreal.  There were hugs all round, everyone jumping and bouncing, waving flags, congratulating each other and I am quite sure that at one point I even jumped a few rows in front from where I was sitting! 

The emotions experienced that night at the Allianz Arena, and the feelings of pure euphoria and joy is something that I will remember for the rest of my life.  No matter what happens, this night will be something that will never be matched as arguably the best night of my life. We had done it, it was just an amazing feeling.  It is a moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life. On 19th May 2012, against all odds, Chelsea made history and we were there that night to witness it.

We stayed back for quite a while to enjoy the celebrations and cherish the moment.  After we finally left the stadium and made our way to the train station what was to to follow was another unbearable journey back into town.  Again, as it was with our journey to the stadium, trains were overcrowded, and for some odd reason the train was stopping randomly not moving without the driver announcing any reason for this.  After a while, some of us on the train just gave up and got off after a few stops. It was taking too long and we were just not moving.  It was too hot and we could not take it any longer so we decided to walk out and try to find a taxi.  However, when we got off we found that we were in the middle of no where and also it was impossible to get a taxi.  We walked around for about 2 hours, unable to get a taxi. We stopped off at a bar while we were trying to get a taxi, and we weren't the only ones trying either.  I'm not going to go too much into how bad the transport system was in Munich, as that is the only complaint I have from the trip. But eventually we did get a taxi, and at the end of the night by the time we got back to our hotel after having to pay 75 euros for the taxi it was nearly 4.30am. As soon as we got in, we just collapsed onto our beds having not slept since leaving London early on Friday evening. However, before I went to sleep one thing I did was plug my phone into the charger and I went on YouTube.  We just had to re-watch the highlights of the match, as we just could not believe what had happened that night.  Having seeing Drogba's penalty kick it the back of the net again, this time on YouTube on my phone we went to sleep happily in the knowledge that we were European Champions and we were not just dreaming it!


Outside of the Allianz Arena

The next day was to be spent continuing the celebrations with a chilled out day enjoying the German beer halls of Munich.  We missed he parade back in SW6 as we were not back till the Monday but main thing was that we were there for that historical night for Chelsea.

Sometimes things in life are just meant to be, and this was meant to be our year....

It was written in the stars!
So it is with this I bid you all a farewell. See you all next season and until then keep it blue and keep it carefree because after all we are the CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE!!!

p.s. check out my vid I compiled from Munich:

19th May 2012 - We were there that night Chelsea became Champions of Europe



1 comment:

  1. must have been a once in a lifetime experience!